Pedro Hernandez's stunning 2012 confession to the 1979 murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz was made public for the first time on Monday. In a videotape played in a Manhattan courtroom, with Patz's family members in attendance, Hernandez described spotting the boy on Prince Street in SoHo and luring him into the cellar of a bodega where he worked by offering him a soda. "When he went in front of me I grabbed him by the neck and I started to choke him," Hernandez said. "I wanted to let go but I just couldn’t."
Amid calls for a more aggressive U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, President Obama is expected to announce during a trip to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday that the U.S. is ramping up its efforts to contain the virus. According to the Wall Street Journal, the plan involves sending about 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the region to coordinate the international effort, build treatment centers, and train healthcare workers. The first order of business will be setting up a headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia, and U.S. forces are expected to be on the ground there within two weeks.
The U.S. just conducted its first two purely offensive strikes against ISIS following President Obama's announcement last week that the mission is expanding, and the goal is now to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the terrorist group. The two attacks were conducted on Sunday and Monday, when U.S. planes hit an ISIS combat post that was firing on Iraqi troops near Baghdad and six vehicles in northern Iraq. The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS since August 7, but the first 160 strikes didn't count. While U.S. forces had been limited to humanitarian missions, defending Iraqi infrastructure, and protecting American personnel and facilities, officials said the two latest strikes were not triggered by any advance by ISIS.
On the same day the Minnesota Vikings announced that star running back Adrian Peterson, who is facing felony charges in Texas for child abuse, will play again next Sunday after skipping just one game, there are new allegations that Peterson hit and scarred another one of his children. Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on Friday for using a "switch" on his 4-year-old son last summer, leaving cuts and bruises on his back, buttocks, legs, hands, and scrotum. On Monday night, KHOU 11 News showed photos and text messages that appear to show Peterson discussing beating his 4-year-old son by a different mother in June 2013, leaving a scar above the boy's right eye.
With Nanny Bloomberg out of the picture, adults in New York City are smoking again ("But only when I drink!"). For the third straight year, the smoking rate went up last year, hitting 16.1 percent in 2013 — the all-time low was 14 percent in 2010 — and topping one million people for the first time since 2007. Officials called the jump "significant," although 76 percent of those who admitted to indulging self-reported as "light" or non-daily smokers. We are all Gwyneth Paltrow.
Civilians of the U.S., rejoice: A Ninth Circuit court found on Friday that the Navy is not allowed to scan your computers for any reason, even if you happen to be a creeper watching child porn.
According to the court, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service showed "a profound lack of regard for the important limitations on the role of the military in our civilian society" when it engaged in an expansive search of civilian computers. Instead, for the Navy to be able to investigate a case, it must know ahead of time that the individuals involved are in the military. (Watch out, Jethro Gibbs.)
Almost 200 students — 90 percent of them girls — at a Staten Island high school have been given detention since the beginning of the school year when a new super-strict dress code was implemented. Now, after being sent home to change, forced to wear baggy sweatshirts over their outfits, or shamed in front of their classmates for daring to wear shorts, some students are reclaiming their right to proudly don the ever-risqué tank top.
As usual, children are to blame.
Central and upstate New York have confirmed more than a dozen cases of Enterovirus D68, an especially serious respiratory virus often confused for the common cold. At least 90 cases have been found since August in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Missouri, but EV-D68 has now made it all the way to the Northeast, one germ-magnet kid at a time. (Connecticut, too, has reported cases, although they have not yet been confirmed.) Happy back-to-school season!
Recently, a couple friends were sitting across from another young woman on the subway in the early evening when all their phone alarms began to clang. My friend called out: "Birth control!" They all gushed about the superiority of the shared 5 p.m. daily time setting for their pill reminder. ("It’s the best time, because you’re never asleep!")